My friend Mike complimented me a couple of years ago saying I was able to follow two or three conversations happening around me at the same time. I credit it to being a trainer and having to pay attention to a room full of people working at different speeds. And I’m sure that’s part of it. Sometimes when I’m with mom I wonder if it’s partly
the way I’m wired biologically.
Even though my mom doesn’t initiate or really have many conversations anymore, it doesn’t mean she’s not constantly listening to everything that’s going on around her. She’ll turn her head when she hears something down the hall. She’ll repeat a word or phrase that’s said on TV. She’ll even pick up and repeat the pages over the loudspeaker.
Though we don’t have conversations, mom is still listening when we talk. She’s still paying attention. A nursing home is a busy and loud place, with lots of simultaneous conversations, equipment beeping, TVs playing, and visitors in and out. She’s takes it all in.
Yesterday when Joey was telling me a story that involves a getting a “boob job,” mom picked right up on it and wouldn’t stop repeating the phase…
My coworker asked me this morning if I had any new pictures of baby Eliza. While I thumbed through photos on the iPad my coworker asked, “Do you have any baby pictures of your mother? I mean, I see you in Eliza, but does she look like your mother or father too?”
I’d never thought of that question.
When Eliza was weeks old Katie and I held up her photo beside my baby photo from around that age. The resemblance was uncanny…and a little flattering to me, not so much to Katie.
Looking at my Mom’s childhood picture I can see her in Eliza. They have the same eyes, and nose. They share similar smiles. Looking at Eliza, you can see that the “Power of Helen is strong with this one.”
It is moments and discoveries like this I know my Mom would love to consciously be part of. She would have a fun laugh comparing pictures like this. The sad reality is in the near future these two women will not remember each other. Eliza Helen met Helen Katherine too early, and Helen Katherine met Eliza Helen too late. As Eliza gets older my mother will be a memory, a spirit haunting picture frames, existing as lore told in stories by Matt, Katie and me. However, it is comforting to know they will share more than their name.
Eliza, I believe, will grow up to be headstrong, kind, stubborn, able, compassionate, patient, determined, and have an unwavering sense of family. Some of these traits she will get from Katie and me. If you ever wonder where she gets the rest of her character just look her in the eyes, and remember she is a Helen.